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Old 07-20-2011, 12:24 AM   #1
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1963 26' Overlander
Bainbridge Island , Washington
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 2
Dorm fridge?

I'm renovating a 1963 overlander and everything is out. The crap fridge. The rotten floor. The airconditioner (and it's 47-year-old freon!) gone. The cassis was fixed. the tires and wheels replaced. things are moving forward and we've come to a big question. The fridge.

I just need to know what the big deal is with an RV fridge. Can't I get one from Home Depot, the little dorm fridges seem like a perfect solution. Clearly, it won't run off of gas. But it'll fit will.

so i guess the question is ... if i don't care if the fridge runs off of gas, can i just have a regular small fridge in my overlander.

thanks for your help.


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Old 07-20-2011, 05:52 AM   #2
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I have bought several trailers that had these. They worked fine as long as you don't need to boon dock. They certainly are a lot cheaper

Since we are rarely any place with power I have always replaced them.

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Old 07-20-2011, 06:03 AM   #3
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That little house refrigerator will work fne as long as you have AC power. If you don't care about boondocking, or running the refrigerator while travelling, that should work for you.

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Old 07-20-2011, 08:05 AM   #4
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This question is asked a lot here. I am aware of the cost of the RV refers and that budgets simply may not allow that option. I know a lot of folks go with the AC only units. I guess I would like to know how many of those who chose AC only later went back and bought the standard RV refers.

For our use, not having the option of propane would not work at all. Long travel days in hot weather, and boondocking alone and at events (NASCAR, Burning Man, etc) require it. I like not being limited to camping only where hook-ups are available.

Whatever your choice, happy camping!
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Old 07-20-2011, 08:14 AM   #5
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We completely eliminated the need for gas when restoring our '71 Overlander. The Dometic runs very well on AC, in fact, too well sometimes. And, it stays cold from one place to the next. If I ever needed to replace it, I would go for a larger dorm refer. We don't ever plan on boondocking or camping at a place that doesn't have hook ups.
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Old 07-20-2011, 08:21 AM   #6
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Some thing to consider

The dorm size fridge comes in two types. A compressor type and a thermal-electrical type.
The compressor type will cool the best but you will hear the compressor run, start up, and shut off. This might be annoying to some at night.
The thermal-electrical type only cools 30-40 degrees below ambient. Also the fan runs continually. Again noise at night.

The RV fridge is quiet and cool very well.
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Old 07-20-2011, 08:47 AM   #7
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When I bought my Trade Wind it had a dorm fridge in it. It worked fine when parked. And was OK when we had only a couple of hour drive for the day. I replaced it with a new Dometic RM 2510(PPL in Houston had the best price) which fit the original location. We just got home yesterday from 9 days in the Smokey Mountains and North Georgia. Rachel and I both agreed that the money spent on the fridge was some of the best we spent on the trailer. First it is much bigger and has a larger freezer. But more important is we could keep things cold while traveling. The freezer stayed around zero and the fridge part around 37 with the thermostat about 3/4 of the way up and we had some hot weather. We made 3 trips with the dorm fridge before getting the new Dometic. There is not way I would go back to just 120V.
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Old 07-20-2011, 09:49 AM   #8
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Most things in life are a compromise... I have known folks who have traveled with a dorm type refrigerator with good results, but have given up the freezer. They keep the freezer stocked with those blue gel freezer packs. When they will be on the road most of the day, they move them to the fridge compartment and try not to open the door. When they arrive at their destination and get plugged in, they move them back to the freezer to get "recharged". Some have said that the fridge itself will stay cool enough safely for several hours without connection to AC power if they don't open the door much.
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Old 07-20-2011, 10:33 AM   #9
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Welcome to the forums.

The "dorm fridge" conversions are fairly common on older trailers where cost is a major concern. While there are some reports of early failures -- dorm fridges are made cheaply and the constant motion accelerates failures -- overall they do work while plugged in.

But having a fridge that will work without AC power may be more important than you realize. I only rarely "boondock" but would not be without a propane fridge since there are so many situations where it's important to maintain cooling. Among these, a long day on the road in hot weather. Stops to run errands on the way to or from a campsite. Unexpected stops on the roadside due to mechanical failures or bad weather. Parking in a driveway to load or unload people or stuff. Power failures at the campground.

Having the propane fridge takes the stress and rush out of these sorts of situations because we know that both the fridge and freezer temps will be maintained. It also eliminates the need in most cases to hook up a shore power cord for brief stops at home or at friend's places.

So you'll have to consider your "use case" -- the kind of traveling you are going to do and what kind of food you're going to keep on hand. If you only plan on traveling short distances and then stay in one spot then a dorm fridge may be ok.
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Old 07-20-2011, 12:04 PM   #10
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Always amazed

There are many threads on this forum regarding modification/upgrade of our Airstream travel trailers, axle upgrades, additional/better battery system upgrades, 12v/110v inverters, solar systems, and the list goes on.

This subject of changing from a 110v/propane refer to a 110v only refer is about the only subject that deals with making a travel trailer less desireable and user friendly.

Oh, I know, "I'm going to keep this trailer forever". "I will only go where I can plug in." Trailers spoken of in this manner go on the market every day.

You will never be sorry for putting a real RV refer in your Airstream.

Think real hard before you turn your Airstream into something that most others would not want to use. Soon, you may not want to use it either.

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